POSTED: January 22, 2013

Workbook Tip #1

from Machaelle Wright

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In the final chapter of The Perelandra Garden Workbook, I address climate change and its impact on the planet. According to a NY Times article by Sarah Lyall (1/10/13):

"China is enduring its coldest winter in nearly 30 years. Brazil is in the grip of a dreadful heat spell, Eastern Russia is so freezing — minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and counting — that the traffic lights recently stopped working in the city of Yakutsk. Brush fires are raging across Australia, fueled by a record-shattering heat wave. Pakistan was inundated by unexpected flooding in September. A vicious storm bringing rain, snow and floods just struck the Middle East. And in the United States, scientists confirmed this week what people could have figured out simply by going outside: last year was the hottest since records began."

If you are gardening, you are now directly dealing with the extreme and more frequent changes in real ways. For you, this is not a philosophical discussion or something that is happening to other people. Climate change brought about by global warming is altering all the individual elements and life patterns that make up a garden's environment. Many of the changes around us are invisible and, unless you have gardened for years, the altered patterns are imperceptible. It's the seasoned gardener who is noticing the fundamental changes in his or her garden's rhythms. More and more, gardeners are unable to rely on creating a successful garden by doing things the way they have been done in previous years. The bottom line: It's all changing thanks to global warming and climate change. No one is exempt.

The most effective and efficient way for dealing with these changes is to work with nature in partnership and to follow nature's directions for addressing the new variables in balanced ways. However, when working with nature, the greatest element that limits nature's role and what it can offer is the human mind. We close down nature's information about necessary change by ASSUMING that the patterns that have been previously set will continue. As co-creative gardeners, it is vital that we enter all our planning sessions with nature with a clear mind and that we set all assumptions aside. The only valid assumption we can take with us into the sessions is that things MAY change.

Now, if you have practiced co-creative gardening for several years, nature has already worked with you to address these changes and together you have gradually moved your garden into the "climate change era." So as a seasoned co-creative gardener you may go through planning sessions with an assumption-free mind and end up with just a few things changing because your garden's base for this new era has already begun setting. The key is to expect anything.

In general, you need to participate in the partnership with a flexible mind and be willing to accept the needed changes your partner will give to achieve your garden's goals in light of the environmental challenges. Different varieties of plants that can better withstand the new weather extremes may need to be planted. The garden's rows may need to be laid out differently. For example, in areas of extreme drought, rain is retained in soil better when rows are laid out in contour with the land. The planting timing may change. The size of the garden may need to change in order to better meet your goals. In short, everything that goes into planning and working a garden may need to change. Nature is your source when it comes to determining what to do. But if you work in partnership with nature with the assumption that what you did in previous years that created a successful garden is what you need to repeat this year, you are going to limit the extent and range of information nature can give you. Your assumptions create a mental filter and nature's information can't get through to you without some distortion from the filter. Or the filter limits you by reducing the chances that you'll think to ask nature the pertinent questions.

So as you move with the Workbook through these early planning sessions, you'll need to be mentally relaxed, flexible and assumption-free in order to wrap your head around the needed changes. And because global warming and climate change are going to continue for quite some time thus reducing the chances for yearly patterns to form, you'll need to approach each year's garden with a commitment to explore with your partner new approaches that better address that year's environmental changes.

Remember that all your information comes from nature taking into consideration three major things: you as the gardener, the goals you have set for your garden when you activated your DDP (see Chapters 2 and 4) and the environmental variables that will impact your garden each year that have been made that much more challenging thanks to global warming.

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE GARDENERS: If you are a co-creative gardener in the southern hemisphere, you are currently in the middle of your summer growing season and having to endure your own environmental extremes. Ask the necessary questions for moving your garden through the remainder of the session and do maintenance sessions with nature (Chapter 11) with a clear mind, free of assumptions. When you start the sessions with nature for planning next season's garden, you can approach them as outlined in this message.

I see this as an exciting time to be experiencing a co-creative partnership with nature. It's one thing to be operating with nature in a relatively stable environment with equally stable variables. Patterns that are established early on in the garden's life remain throughout the years and we can depend on consistency and the comfort that gives us. But climate change has moved us into a situation that is serious and filled with fast-moving changes. More and more we are going to be forced to look to our partner for answers and help if we are to successfully navigate our way through these years. We need to shift our thinking and trade the comfort of consistency for the excitement and adventure of change.


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